St. James High School has plenty to celebrate after Friday night’s 49-20 victory over Waccamaw; after all, it’s the first football game the Sharks have won since a victory in the 2015 Class AAA playoffs.
A potent offense and opportunistic defense led the way for new head coach Joey Price and the Sharks (1-1), putting up 14 points in each of the first three quarters to build a commanding lead over Waccamaw (0-2).
Quarterback Berkeley Young led three scoring drives in the first half, tossing touchdown passes to Josh Ritchey and Hunter Smiley, while the ground game of Deondray Stanfield and a punt return by Alex Holmes provided the additional fireworks for the Sharks. Waccamaw’s Ryon Fox did his best to keep the Warriors in the ballgame, accounting for two touchdowns and over 100 yards on the night.
The St. James defense made things difficult on Waccamaw, with an early interception and constant penetration in the Warrior backfield to make the zone read a tough decision for quarterback Brandon Stecz. The junior signal-caller would hit on two long touchdowns, but was routinely pressured by the Sharks.
After winning the coin toss and deferring to the second half, the St. James defense set the tone for the contest with an interception by safety Austin Werba. The Shark offense would start its day with excellent field position, which led to a Deondray Stanfield touchdown run. The Sharks would never relinquish the lead.
Alex Holmes: The do-everything player scored a touchdown on offense and special teams, while also starting at cornerback for the Sharks.
Berkeley Young: While kneeling on the ball for the final play to clinch the victory was sweet, the junior’s three touchdown passes and cool head under pressure helped lead St. James to its first victory of the year.
Hunter Smiley: Two huge plays by the wide receiver stretched the St. James lead to keep Waccamaw from gaining momentum for a comeback.
By the numbers
St. James came into the contest against Waccamaw with a 12-game losing streak, having gone winless last season.
Alex Holmes covered 136 yards for his two touchdowns for St. James, a 71-yard punt return and a 65-yard run.
Ryon Fox put up over 100 all-purpose yards and two scores for Waccamaw, making plays all over the field.
They said it
“This is a team that has tremendous work ethic and does a lot of things well. We have some small things we need to shore up in all phases, but they give a great effort on the field and put in a lot of hard work.” – St. James head coach Joey Price
“We have some great senior leadership, they came in that locker room today and said ‘This party’s over, this is the day that the losing streak is over.’ We’re thrilled to get the win; we had a chance to win last week, but just couldn’t finish it. Nobody wants to be a loser all the time, so we’re excited to be in the win column. – Price
Waccamaw: at Carvers Bay
St. James: at Carolina Forest
SJ – Deondray Stanfield 2 yard run (Riley Parker kick good) 7:05
SJ – Alex Holmes 71 yard punt return (Parker kick good) 1:03
SJ – Berkeley Young 26 yard pass to Josh Ritchey (Parker kick good) 11:13
Wac – Ryon Fox 11 yard run (Kick failed) 1:03
SJ – Young 11 yard pass to Hunter Smiley (Parker kick good) 00:06
SJ – Chris Anderson 6 yard run (Parker kick good) 9:22
Wac – Brandon Stecz 34 yard pass to James Alston (Joseph Gullo kick good) 6:41
SJ – Holmes 65 yard run (Parker kick good) 6:15
SJ – Young 64 yard pass to Smiley (Parker kick good) 8:56
Wac – Stecz 38 yard pass to Fox (Gullo kick good) 4:28
Rushing: Wac – Ryon Fox 21-72 TD. SJ – Alex Holmes 4-125 TD.
Passing: Wac – Brandon Stecz 8-15-91-1-1. SJ – 4-10-101-3-0.Receiving: Wac – James Alston 3-48 TD. SJ – Hunter Smiley 2-75 2TD.